SBS On Demand: best streaming shows of 2023

From Erotic Stories to Alone Australia – here are the top SBS On Demand shows this year, according to ScreenHub reviewers.

Here are the eight best shows to stream on SBS On Demand in 2023, as reviewed by ScreenHub authors.

Erotic Stories – 4.5 star review

Erotic Stories. Image: SBS.

‘I suppose what makes these Erotic Stories ‘erotic’ rather than ‘pornographic’ is that they’re about much more than just the thrill of getting off. They’re tales of intimacy: being seen and held for who we really are. The sex we witness also changes the characters’ own beliefs about themselves. And whether they’ve known their partners for years or are strangers who’ll never meet again, these encounters are always meaningful.’

Read: Erotic Stories, SBS review: sexy in the right ways

Night Bloomers – 4 star review

>Night Bloomers. Image: SBS.

‘Australian horror crawls easily under your skin, and Night Bloomers uses a genre about monstrous misfits and the shadows between borders to craft bloody fables for the diaspora.’

Read: Night Bloomers, SBS review: bloody fables from the Korean diaspora

The Mission – 4 star review

The Mission. Image Is Of A Man In Black T-Shirt And Jacket With Short Dark Hair, Looking At The Camera, Standing In Front Of A Dark Backdrop Including Blurry Old Master Paintings.
>The Mission. Image: SBS.

Marc Fennell has been doing this kind of thing for a while now and this series uses him well, keeping his on-camera appearances in interviews largely to moments of astonishment or incredulity while letting him serve as a guide through the increasingly complex international web of cops and crims and forgers and dealers. He’s a safe pair of hands, and he doesn’t fumble here.

Read: The Mission, SBS review: Fennell is in fine form

The First Inventors – 5 star review

>The First Inventors. Image: SBS/NITV.

‘For Indigenous viewers, this show may be a vindication, and a repudiation of colonial misinformation. But for all viewers, The First Inventors is a generous, hopeful show that can help Australia invent a brighter future.’

Read: The First Inventors on SBS review: a show that lets us listen and learn

The Kingdom – 4 star review

>The Kingdom. Image: SBS.

‘This documentary doesn’t ignore the dark side of the now crumbling Hillsong ministries either. It’s a compassionate and humane look at what drives these churches and the people who visit them – in large part because the big hook here is that host Marc Fennell grew up in the Pentecostal system himself.’

Read: The Kingdom on SBS review: a peek at Pentecostalism

Appetite – 4 star review

>Appetite. Image: SBS.

Appetite is grounded in a solidarity springing from the characters’ shared migrant dislocation and economic exploitation. As a more familiar kind of silly TV twentysomething, Zal is the outlier; when the others realise he grew up rich in Sydney, it shocks them less than when they realise his mum’s white. The four lead actors are all very charming – even Labade, who’s saddled with acting like a dickhead for the first half of the series. However, Wu is especially watchable as Tessa. I would happily follow them on more adventures – and surely there’s room to explore the delivery-rider subculture more deeply than the quick glimpses we get here.’

Read: Appetite on SBS review: a moreish, snackable treat

Alone Australia – 4 star review

>Alone Australia. Image: SBS.

‘Wilderness is a Western construct, in which land exists either as a resource to exploit, or as a space into which to project individual sovereignty: ‘man vs. wild’ is deliberately antagonistic. This makes Alone Australia a rare TV treat because, paradoxically, it shows how much people need connection, community and curiosity to thrive.’

Read: Alone Australia brings us together in the wilderness

Safe Home – 4 star review

>Safe Home. Image: SBS.

‘At times the raw nature of family violence threatens to overwhelm the more traditional drama, but Phoebe’s viewpoint is a strong one, bringing wider systemic social problems down to a very human level. It’s a tough world she’s found herself in – Melbourne has rarely looked so cold and unforgiving, with regular inserts of chilly skyscrapers looming against the night sky – and it soon becomes clear that it’s a world that extends well into her own. Safe Home isn’t comfortable or safe entertainment. With subject matter like this it shouldn’t be. If good drama is all about what’s at stake, this is one of the best Australian dramas of the year.’

Read: Review: Safe Home on SBS

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites